If you’re a parent of a tween or teenager, chances are you’ve been told they ‘need’ a smartphone to keep in contact with friends and to be part of the social media world.
In a study published in 2015 by Research New Zealand, 70% of Kiwi’s, and 91% of people aged 18–34, owned or had access to a smartphone, so it’s a fact, smartphones are a big part of our lives.
There’s no right age for your child to get their first smartphone, and it’s a decision only you can make. So, before you take the plunge and buy your child a smartphone, here’s our top questions to consider:
1. Are they good with their possessions?
Buying a smartphone is expensive and not something you want to do often! If your child loses things easily, will they be any different with their smartphone?
2. Do they understand the wide reach of the internet?
Anything your child posts on social media is potentially available for anyone to see. Photos from night’s out, private photos sent to friends; once an image is on the internet it’s very hard for it to be permanently deleted.
3. Does your child understand that not everything on the internet is real?
We've all seen and laughed at botched photoshop images and realise that it's very easy to alter an image. We're also aware that social media feeds are usually carefully curated to only show a very one-sided point of view. But does your child realise this? And do they know how to tell if their 'friends' are really who they say they are?
4. Is your child already addicted to another screen?
If you struggle to get your child off their computer or game console, chances are it’s going to be the same with a smartphone.
5. What’s your own use like?
Are you addicted to your smartphone or device? If so, you have most likely been modelling this behaviour to your child. How are they going to be any different?
6. How does social media affect your moods?
Do you post photos on social media and wait for likes and comments? If no-one comments on your photo, how does that make you feel? And what about all the glamorous holiday photos your friend's post and the ‘look at me’ moments freely available online. If your moods are affected by social media, chances are your child's will be too.
Although it may not be a popular choice with your child, consider buying a ‘not-so-smart’ phone which can be used for texts and calls only.
Survey of New Zealanders’ Use of Smartphones and other Mobile Communication Devices Research New Zealand, 2015